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2o6 ENQUIRY into the CAUSE of 

properties of this wonderful fubftance, light, which ani- 
mates all nature in the eyes of man, and perhaps above 
all things difpofes him to acknowledge the Creator's boun- 
ty. But want of leifure obliges me to quit the fubjed for 
the prefent. 

I am, dear fir, your afFedionate friend, 
And very humble fervant, 


N° XXV. 

An Enquiry info the Caiife of the Increafe of Bilious and 
Intermitting Fevers in Pennfylvania^ ivith Hints for 
preventing them. By Benjamin Rush, M. D. Pro- 
fejfor of Chemifiry in the Univerfity of Pennfylvania. 

^'il"i78?'' "i"^ ^^^ ^^^^ remarked, that Pennfylvania for 
X fome years paft has become more fickly than 
formerly. Fevers which a few years ago appeared chiefly 
on the banks of creeks and rivers, and in the neighbour- 
hood of mill-ponds, now appear in parts remote from 
them all, and in the higheft fituations. This change with 
refped: to the healthineis of our country, may be traced 
to the three following caufes. 

1. The eftablifhment and increafe of mill-ponds. There 
are whole counties in Pennfylvania in which intermittents 
were imknown, until the waters in them were dammed, 
for the purpofe of erecting mill-ponds. 

2. The cutting down of wood, under certain circum- 
ftances, tends to render a country fickly. It has been re- 
marked that intermittents on the Ihores of the Sufquehan- 
nah have kept an exad pace with the paflages which have 
been opened for the propagation of marlh effluvia, by 



cutting down the wood which formerly grew in its neigh- 
bourhood. I remember the time, when intermittents 
were known only within half a mile, in fome places, of 
that river. They are now to be met with ten miles from 
it in the fame parts of the ftate. 

I beg a diftin£tion to be made here between clearing and 
cultivating a country. While clearing a country makes 
it fickly in the manner that has been mentioned, cultivat- 
ing a country, that is, draining fwamps, deftroying weeds, 
burning brufh, and exhaling the unwholfome or fuperflu- 
ous moifture of the earth, by means of frequent crops of 
grain, grafles, and vegetables of all kinds, render it heal- 
thy. I could mention, in fupport of thefe fads, feveral 
countries in the United States, which have pafled through 
each of the ftages that have been defcribed. The fir ft fet- 
tlers received thefe countries from the hands of nature pure 
and healthy*. Fevers foon followed their improvements, 
nor were they finally banifhed, until the higher degrees of 
cultivation that have been named took place. I confine 
myfelf to thofe countries only where the falutary eft'eits of 
cultivation were not rendered abortive by the neighbour- 
hood ot mill-ponds. 

A 3d caufe of the late increafe of bilious and intermit- 
ting fevers, muft be fought for in the different and une- 
qual quantities of rain which have fallen within thefe laft 
feven years. While our creeks and rivers, from the uni- 
formity of our feafons, were confined to fteady bounds, 
there was little or no exhalation of febrile miafinata from 
their fhores. But the dry fummers of 1780, 1781, and 
1782, by reducing our creeks and rivers far below their 
ancient marks ; while the wet fprings of 1784 and 1785, 
by fwelling them both beyond their natural heights, have, 
when they have fallen, as in the former cafe, left a large 

D d 2 and 

• A phyfician who travelled through part of Bedford county, in Pennfylvania, in the year 
178a, informed me that he was witnefs of fome country people having travelled twenty miles, 
to fee whether it was poirible for a German girl who laboured under an intermittent, to be 
HOT and COLD at the fame time. 

2o8 ENQUIRY into the CAUSE of 

and extenfive furface of moift ground expofed to the ac- 
tion of the fun, and of courfe to the generation and exha- 
lation of febrile miafmata. The hiflory of epidemics in 
foreign countries, favours this opinion of the caufe of their 
inci*eafe in Pennfylvania. The inhabitants of Egypt are 
always healthy during the overflowing of the Nile. Their 
fevers appear only after the recefs of the river. It is re- 
markable that a wet feafon is often healthy in low, while 
it is fickly in hilly countries. The reafon is obvious. In 
the former the rains entirely cover all the moift grounds, 
while in the latter, they fall only in a fufficient quantity 
to produce thofe degrees of moifture which favour febrile 
exhalations. The rains which fall in the fummer are ren- 
dered harmlefs only by covering the -whole furface of 
marlhy ground. The rains which fall in our Itate after 
the middle of September, are fo far from producing fevers, 
that they generally prevent them. The extraordinary 
healthinefs of the laft autumn, 1 believe was occafioned 
by nothing but the extraordinary quantity of rain that fell 
during the autumnal months. The rain probably ads at 
this feafon by diluting, and thus deftroying, the febrile 
iBiafmata that were produced by the heat and moifture of 
the preceding fummer. In fupport of the truth of this 
third caufe of the increafe of fevers in Pennfylvania, I have 
only to add a fadt lately communicated to me by Dr. 
Franklin. He informed me that in his journey from Fafly 
to Havre de Grace, laft fummer, he found the country 
through which he travelled, unufually fickly with fevers. 
Thefe fevers it was generally fuppofed, were produced by 
the extraordinary dry weather, of which the public papers 
have given us fuch melancholy and frequent accounts. 

I come now to fuggeft a few hints for obviating and 
preventing fevers, and for rendering our country again 
healthy. For this purpofe I beg leave to recommend in 
the firft place, the planting of trees around all our mill- 
ponds, (befides cleaning them occafionally) in order to 



prevent the difeafes that have juftly been afcribed to them. 
Let the trees be planted in the greateft number, and clofeft 
together, to leeward of the ordinary current of the fum- 
mer and autumnal winds, I have known feveral inftances 
of families being preferved from fevers by an accidental 
copfe of wood ftanding between a mill-pond and a dwell- 
ing houfe, and that in cafes too where the houfe derived 
no advantage from an high fituation. The trees around 
or near a mill-pond, a£t perhaps in a fmall degree mecha- 
nically. By fheltering the pond from the action of the 
fun, they leflen exhalation, as well as obftruft the paflage 
of the vapors that are raifed to the adjacent parts. But 
they a£t likewife chemically. It has been demonftrated 
that trees abforb unhealthy air, and difcharge it in a high- 
ly purified ftate in the form of what is now called " de- 
" flogifticated" air. The willow tree, according to Mr. 
Ingenhaufz, has been found to purify air the moft rapidly 
of any tree that he fubjefted to his experiments. The ra- 
pidity of its growth, its early verdure, and the late fall of 
its leaf, all feem to mark it likewife as a tree highly pro- 
per for this purpofe. 

A fecond method of preventing fevers, is to let the cul- 
tivation always keep pace with the clearing of our lands. 
Nature has in this inftance connefted our duty, intereft 
and health together. Let every fpot covered with moifture 
from which the wood has been cut, be carefully drained, 
and afterwards ploughed and fowed with grafs feed ; let 
weeds of all kinds be deftroyed, and let the waters be fo 
directed as to prevent their ftagnating in any part of their 

Thefe are the two principal means of extirpating inter- 
mitting and bilious fevers from our country, but as thefe 
means are flow in their operation, I {hall fubjoin a few 
dirediions for preventing fevers till the above remedies 
can take effect. 

r. Whether 


1. Whether the matter which produces fevers be of an 
organic, or inorganic nature, I do not pretend to deter- 
mine, but it is certain, that fire or the fmoke or heaty 
which iflue from it, deftroy the efFeds of marfh miafmata 
upon the human body; hence we find cities more healthy 
than country places, and the centre of cities more heal- 
thy than their fuburbs in the fickly months. To derive 
the utmoft poffible benefit from this method of prevent- 
ing ficknefs, I would advife large fires to be made every 
evening of brufh between the fpots from whence the ex- 
halations are derived, and the dwelling houfe, and as 
near to the latter as is fafe, and not difagreeable. This 
pradice fhould be continued till the appearance of two 
or three frofts, for frofts as well as heavy rains in the au- 
tumnal months never fail to put a flop to the progrefs of 

During the fickly feafon, fires fhould be likewife kept 
in every room in the dwelling houfe, even in thofe cafes 
where the heat of the weather makes it neceffary to keep 
the doors and windows open. 

2. Let me advife my countrymen in fickly fituations, 
to prefer woolen and cotton to linen clothes in the fum- 
mer and autumnal months. The moft fickly parts of the 
illand of Jamacia have been rendered more healthy, fince 
the inhabitants have adopted the ufe of woolen and cotton 
garments inftead of linen. 

During the late war, I knew many officers both in the 
Britifh and American armies who efcaped fevers in the 
moft fickly places, by wearing woolen fhirts, or waift- 
coats conflantly next to their fkins. I have heard the pre- 
fent diminution of the human body in ftrength and fize, 
compared with its ancient vigor and form, afcribed in 
part to the introdudlion of linen garments. I am not 
difpofed to controvert this opinion, but I am fure of the 
efficacy of woolen clothes in wet and cold climates in pre- 
venting fevers of all kinds. The parliament of Great 



Britain compel every body that dies within the ifland to 
be buried in a woolen fhirt or winding fheet. The law 
would be much wifer if it compelled every body to wear 
woolen garments next their {kins during life, and linen 
after death. 

3. The diet in the fickly months Ihould be generous. 
Wine and beer fhould be the drinks of this feafon inftead 
of fpirits and water. I do not think that fruit and vege- 
tables of any kind produce fevers, but as the feafon of the 
year produces languor and weaknefs, a larger quantity of 
animal food than ufual is beft calculated to oppofe them. 
Salted meat for this reafon is preferable to frelh meat. 
Food of all kinds eaten during the fickly months fhould 
be well feafoned. 

4. The evening air fhould be avoided as much as pof- 
fible. There are at prefent few places in Pennfylvania 
where it is fafe to fleep, or even to fet, after the going down 
of the fun, in the fickly months, with the windows open. The 
morning air before the fun rifes, fhould not be breathed, 
until the body has been fortified with a little folid aliment, 
or a draught of bitters. Thefe bitters fhould be made of 
centaury, wormwood, camomile, or the bark of the willow 
or dogwood trees, infufed in tvater. Bitters made with 
fpirits, or even wine, cannot be taken in a fuflicient quan- 
tity to do fervice, without producing intoxication, or the 
deadly habit of loving and drinking fpirituous liquors. 

5. Too much cannot be faid in favour of cleanlinefs, 
as a means of preventing fevers. The body fliould be 
bathed or wafhed frequently. It has been proved that in 
the highlands of Jamaica adding fait to water, renders it 
more powerful in preventing difeafes when applied to the 
body. Equal pains fhould be taken to promote cleanli- 
nefs in every fpecies of apparel. OfFal matters, efpecially 
thofe which are of a vegetable nature, fhould be removed 
from the neighbourhood of a dwelling houfe. The dung 
of domeflic animals during its progrefs towards manure 



may be excepted from this direftion. Nature, which 
made man and thefe animals, equally neceflary to each 
other's fubfiftence, has kindly prevented any inconveni- 
ence from their living together. On the contrary, to re- 
pay the hufbandman for affording a fhelter to thefe ufe- 
ful and helplefs animah, nature has done more. She has 
endowed their dung vpith a pov?er of dcftroying the effects 
of marlh exhalations, and of preventing fevers. The 
miferable cottagers in Europe who live under the fame 
roof, and in fome inflances in the fame room with their 
cattle, are always healthy. In Philadelphia, fevers are lefs 
known in the neighbourhood of livery ftables, than in 
any other part of the city. I could mention a family that 
has lived near thirty years near a livery ftable in a fickly 
part of the city, that has never known a fever but from, 
the meafles or fmall-pox. 


An Account of the late Dr. Hugh Martin'j Cancer 
Poivder., ivith brief Ohfewations on Cancers. By Ben- 
jamin Rush, M. D. <^'c. (^c. 

Read February A FEW years ago a certain Dr. Hugh Mar- 
jt\^ tin, a furgeon of one of the Pennfylvania 
regiments ftationed at fort Pitt, during the latter part of 
the late war, came to this city, and advertifed to cure can- 
cers with a medicine which he faid he had difcovered in 
the woods, in the neighbourhood of the garrifon. As 
Dr. Martin had once been a pupil of mine, I took the li- 
berty of waiting upon him, and afked him fome queftions 
refpe£ling his difcovery. His anfwers were calculated to 
make me believe, that his medicine was of a vegetable 
nature, and that it was originally an Indian remedy. He